MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Tenn. (WTVF) — There are plenty of reasons why a steady stream of customers do all of their shopping at Hilltop Market.
"We’re up here just about every day," said Averitt Hagewood, a frequent shopper at the store.
Of course, farm fresh food is a big reason.
"I do want to get a cantaloupe," said Alan Blackwell, another longtime customer. "Got to smell them to make sure they’re ripe."
But for most of the longtime customers, it was the longtime owner, Wayne Hall, that kept them coming back.
"Real nice, he was a people’s person," said Jerry Wimberly Jr., who knew Hall for decades.
"He knew his customers and he took care of them. He helped us a lot over the years," said Blackwell.
Hall died last Saturday at 88.
Hall started Hilltop Market more than 50 years ago as a little country store. Then in the 1990s, he moved the store across TN-149 with a big expansion, with the dream of becoming the signature store for Montgomery County.
"Mr. Hall was this place, he built it from the ground up. It was his lifelong ambition to have a big store like this," said Mike Jackson, the current owner of Hilltop Market. "His thing was always smiles and service, that’s what made him what he was."
Hall couldn't always compete on prices, but he had a corner on the market when it came to compassion.
"If their child was sick, he would get them medicine. If they needed a gallon of milk, he would get up and come get them a gallon of milk," said Jackson. "He would let you run credit, whatever it took. If you needed it and couldn’t pay him back, he’d give it to you."
Hall's generosity extended to local educators too.
"This man would find out what the teachers needed at the schools. He not only purchased the items but delivered them to the schools with a smile. He will be missed," Laura Schaffer wrote on Facebook.
Hall decided to retire about 10 years ago, but kept the business within the family. Jackson, who now owns the store, is his brother-in-law.
"He’d still come in and tell us what to do," said Jackson with a chuckle.
But the store has continued to thrive all because of one man, who gave people so many reasons to shop at Hilltop Market.
"He was a fine fella," said Hagewood.
"He’s just good people and he’s going to be missed," said Blackwell.
The family of Wayne Hall will receive friends at Sykes Funeral Home in Clarksville Thursday evening from 4 to 7 pm and 10 a.m. Friday until the start of his memorial service, which starts at noon.
Hall will be laid to rest at Resthaven Memorial Gardens following the service.